I love a day out.
I particularly love a day out where I’m promised free food, so I have to confess that the offer of a delicious breakfast in the middle of a beautiful oat field, swiftly followed by a tasty buffet lunch, went quite a long way to persuading me to take the trip up to Crewe to the home of Mornflake Cereal, to find out what goes in to producing a box of oats or bag of granola.
I wasn’t disappointed, as you can see:
The breakfast was a wonderful way to start the day, and a chance to meet some of the farmers who produce oats for Mornflake. They talked passionately about what they did, and emphasised how much they value having a contract with Mornflake – a luxury that many farmers never have. Contracting farmers to grow oats though is key to Mornflake’s mission to make oat production sustainable in the UK, as is their commitment to working with UK farmers and reducing food miles wherever possible.
Waste is also high on the agenda – currently Mornflake operate at 0.01% wastage. It would be 0% if it wasn’t for the random items that get picked up with the harvest, like broken golf balls and farmers’ tools! (All of these quickly get filtered out, so you don’t need to worry about finding a spanner in your porridge.)
We went from our breakfast to meet John Lea, the owner of Mornflake. The Lea family have been milling oats in Cheshire since 1675 and 15 generations later they are still independently owned and run by the same family. You imagine I think, faced with the cereal aisle in Sainsbury’s, that they are all huge, faceless companies, so it was heartening to hear how the business has grown over the years at the same time as maintaining a really strong set of core values.
After learning more about the history of the company, we suited up, ready for our exclusive factory tour. This was one of the bits I was looking forward to most, as I love seeing how things are made, especially on a production line. There is something very hypnotic about watching the process – oats going into bags, the bags being put into boxes, the boxes being sealed and travelling down the belt – it makes you feel about five years old, like you’re staring in awe at a massive toy.
Mornflake very rarely allow groups of visitors in the factory, so we all felt very priviliged, if not a little sweaty – it was one of the hottest days of the year so far and factories aren’t know for being terribly breezy! We also met the team who come up with ideas for new products, which was very cool. I felt a bit like Charlie in Charlie in the Chocolate Factory, but resisted the urge to steal any top secret everlasting gobstopper or granola recipes.
The only slight negative was the factory attire, but it helped that the hair nets coordinated nicely with my glasses:
All in all a lovely time was had by all. We all learnt a lot about the passion and dedication of the Lea family, and the fascinating processes that go into producing top quality oats. Plus we had great snacks, so what’s not to love? The next time I find myself staring helplessly at the rows of boxes in the cereal aisle, I’m definitely going to think about the heritage behind the Mornflake brand and opt for them.
Are you a big oat eater? Have you tried Mornflake cereals before?